The Expedited Partner Therapy Continuum: A Conceptual Framework to Guide Programmatic Efforts to Increase Partner Treatment

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Abstract

Background

Expedited partner therapy (EPT) is a partner treatment strategy wherein health care providers give patients antibiotics or a prescription to deliver to their sex partners as treatment, without an intervening medical evaluation.

Methods

We used PubMed and the Cochrane database to systematically identify published articles about EPT after 2006 and randomized controlled trials before that date; we also sought conference abstracts and unpublished data from 2013 to 2014. We described key steps in a hypothetical “EPT continuum,” beginning with diagnosis of Chlamydia trachomatis or Neisseria gonorrhoeae in a patient and ending with treatment for the patient's sex partner(s) with EPT. All reports were abstracted for a set of defined measures and related interventions.

Results

We reviewed 100 published articles, unpublished data reports, and conference abstracts; 42 met the inclusion criteria and provided measures of the following: provider uptake and offer of EPT, patient acceptance and receipt of EPT, patient delivery of EPT to sex partners, and partner receipt of EPT and treatment. Implementation phase, populations, settings, and methodologies varied across reports. Providers' uptake and offer of EPT are rate-limiting steps in the EPT continuum and were the focus of all 5 programmatic interventions we identified. There were 7 population-based measures of patient receipt of EPT; however, several of the patient populations overlapped.

Conclusions

A heterogenous body of literature describes EPT, and variation in study population, setting, and metrics limit generalizability. Programs seeking to increase partner treatment should focus their efforts on provider uptake and offer and should use population-based measures to monitor EPT use.

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